Killer waves may be good for surfing but University of Wisconsin scientists researching Lake Superior’s waves have found these rogue waters can do more damage to ships and boats.

Rogue waves, otherwise known as killer or freak waves, are large powerful waves that change the normal conditions of the lake.

UW professor of engineering Chin Wu and assistant researcher Josh Anderson have been studying these killer waves in order to raise public awareness of the dangers they present.

“People never expect these types of waves to occur, that’s why we monitor them to keep them informed when we see these waves occurring,” Wu said.

Though difficult to predict, Wu and Anderson have been monitoring the waves by using a sensor placed at the bottom of Lake Superior.

The sensor measures the waves’ occurrence, then sends information back to Wu and Anderson to analyze the statistics and data to determine when another wave may occur, Wu explained.

Wu has been studying these waves for the past five years. Recent studies of waves near the Apostle Islands on Lake Superior have shown the cliff shore line cause the waves to reflect off, creating more waves, Wu said.

Due to this reflection, Wu said, this area has become a “hot spot” for rogue waves to occur.

In an area that is a popular spot in the summer for kayakers and other tourists, Wu said he wants to keep an eye on these waves to ensure people can continue to enjoy Lake Superior safely.

The area around the Apostle Islands will continue to be monitored so information may be provided to the public, Wu said.

“We hope to continue to identify the hot spots for the rogue waves,” Wu said.